Unilever sales suffer in Western Europe

LONDON - Unilever has reported a 4.2% year-on-year drop in underlying sales in Western Europe to €2.86bn in its fourth quarter results, but said there has been an encouraging trend in quarterly volume growth.

The company said its Western Europe operating margin before restructuring, disposals and other one-off items was down 2.4% in the year, largely due to a substantial increase in marketing investment and the negative impact of a weaker sterling exchange rate on its UK business.

The company's global fourth quarter turnover was down 4.8% year on year to €9.66bn, though underlying sales growth (excluding the effects of acquisitions and disposals) was 1.8%.

The market segment Unilever experienced the most growth in was home care, with underlying sales up 7.1%, thanks to brands such as Surf and Comfort.

In personal care, sales grew by 5.3% and there were "encouraging early results" from the launch of its Dove for Men + Care range in Italy, France, Spain and Benelux. The company added that the US launch of Axe (known in the UK as Lynx) extension, Axe Hair, was "successful".

The ice cream and beverages division increased underlying sales by 4% but sales in the savoury, dressings and spreads division they decreased by 0.1%.

Unilever is currently reviewing its global media account, the bulk of which is held by WPP's Mindshare.

Read more on Brand Republic

The Marketing Profile: Paul Nevett and Matt Close of Unilever

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